Semnani Family Foundation to provide bonus funds to U.S. Olympic wrestling medalists in Rio de Janeiro

By USA Wrestling and the Semnani Family Foundation | Aug. 02, 2016, 1:15 p.m. (ET)
Photo of Khosrow B. Semnani courtesy of Semnani Family Foundation. Photo of USA Olympic wrestlers by Jennifer Gutches.

The Semnani Family Foundation, an international humanitarian non-profit organization based in Salt Lake City, Utah, announced its intention to contribute towards bonuses for wrestlers from the United States who win medals in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

All 14 U.S. wrestlers, competing in men’s freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle, are eligible for these awards. Prizes will also be awarded to each medalist’s personal coach.

These achievement awards to USA wrestlers will go through the USA Wrestling, the national governing body for the sport of wrestling in the United States,

Following up on its long established support for wrestling—particularly including its work to support the campaign to keep wrestling in the Olympics —the Salt Lake City-based Semnani Family Foundation announced it will pay the following achievement awards:

• Gold Medalists: $20,000 and Personal Coach award: $5,000 (as determined by athlete)
• Silver Medalists: $10,000 and Personal Coach award: $3,000 (as determined by athlete)
• Bronze Medalists: $5,000 and Personal Coach award: $2,000 (as determined by athlete)

The awards to the USA wrestlers from the Semnani Family Foundation are part of the Living the Dream Medal Fund, in which funding from individual stewards, USA Wrestling and the U.S. Olympic Committee will combine to provide performance bonuses to U.S. wrestlers who win a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the level of $250,000 for a gold medal, $50,000 for a silver medal and $25,000 for a bronze medal. The Semnani Family Foundation is recognized as a Steward of the Living the Dream Medal Fund with its generous support for the American wrestlers.

The Semnani Family Foundation has announced a similar support program for wrestling medalists from Iran at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Wrestling is an essential Olympic sport and tradition,” said Khosrow B. Semnani, President of the Semnani Family Foundation and a long-time fan of the sport. “It’s a competition where excellence and sportsmanship combine in a culture of fair play. As an Iranian-American I am proud of the way athletes from my birth and adopted homelands strive for excellence while building mutual respect and bonds of friendship. These incentives, I hope, will strengthen not only the sport of wrestling, but the friendship between the citizens of the two countries.”

In February 2013, when the International Olympic Committee Executive Board recommended to end wrestling as a core sport in the Olympic Games, the Semnani Family Foundation worked with the USA Wrestling and the Committee to Preserve Wrestling in the Olympics (CPOW) to reverse that decision. The Semnani Family Foundation was a partner in this effort by sponsoring the May 2013 “United 4 Wrestling” event in Los Angeles which brought American, Russian, and Canadian wrestlers together in what 2012 Olympic champion and 2011 World champion Jordan Burroughs called one of “the biggest (wrestling) events of the year.”

“In 2013, when wrestling faced the threat of being eliminated from the Olympics, the Semnani Family Foundation stepped forward with unbelievable support,” James Ravannack, President of USA Wrestling said. “With the foundation’s generosity and involvement, and with the help of thousands of fans across the world, that fight was won—and the sport is stronger for it. The Semnani Family Foundation continues to be an important part of the success of international wrestling both as a sport and as a vehicle for increasing understanding between nations and individuals.”

That event was staged in cooperation with California USA Wrestling and Beat the Streets – Los Angeles and was part of an international campaign to bring awareness of the proposed devaluing of wrestling in the Olympics. It joined wresting fans across the world, United World Wrestling and the 177 nations which participate in wrestling to retain wrestling as an Olympic sport.

The foundation supported the annual World Cup of Wrestling that brought wrestling teams from Iran, Russia, the United States, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine, India, Japan, Belarus, Cuba and Armenia for World Cups competitions held in the city of Los Angeles in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Fortunately, the IOC reversed its position in September of 2013 and Olympic wrestling will continue—as it has since the beginning of both the ancient and modern Olympic movements. As IOC president Jacques Rogge said, according to USA Today: "Wrestling has shown great passion and resilience in the last few months."

The Semnani Family Foundation’s mission is to find creative and effective ways of serving the needs of marginal and vulnerable communities around the world.